The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry
experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the
overall food industry marketplace. In this issue, we ask:
What are some areas of investment that food manufacturers
should utilize to improve their energy management?
Mike Edgett, Director, Industry Marketing, Process Manufacturing, Infor
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is an important benchmark, and measuring OEE is critical. There’s just one problem: OEE can lead
managers to make decisions that don't involve the entire cost picture, since the measure doesn’t take energy consumption into account. What
kinds of investments can food and beverage companies make to improve energy management?
1. Replace older equipment, such as industrial food processing machinery, with more energy-efficient equipment. Many state governments
offer incentives, such as tax rebates, for purchases of energy-saving appliances. Companies like Unilever
have committed to using hydrocarbon refrigerants, which saved more than 40,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2013.
Asset management technology built specifically for the food and beverage industry continually monitors
energy consumption at the asset level, and sends alerts about performance issues that need resolution.
2. Improve packaging. Waste disposal is an energy consuming process, and one of the ways to reduce it is
through better packaging. An example is Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), which substitutes the
atmosphere inside a package with a protective combination of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen in order
to extend freshness.
3. Build an energy-efficient distribution network by investing in vehicles or distribution partners that produce
fewer emissions, or by better monitoring your existing network. Dean Foods, the largest dairy processor in
the U.S., partnered with Thermo King to design a cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable truck refrigeration system that significantly reduces the emissions associated with traditional diesel-powered transport
refrigeration. While designing new equipment isn’t feasible for everyone, managing risk, warranties and
change notices is — through robust asset management technology that also monitors asset performance,
sends preventive maintenance alerts and collects data on assets.
Investing in energy management initiatives is not only about saving money and improving the environment;
reducing a food and beverage company’s carbon footprint in demonstrable ways improves its own brand. It’s not
only a profitable move, it’s a smart one. u
Luke Facemyer, Director of Design, Stellar
Industrial refrigeration accounts for the largest energy usage in a manufacturing facility, often up to 60 percent of a
plant’s total operating expenses. As a result, this is the first area where many manufacturers choose to invest to improve
energy efficiency. An integrated approach to optimizing the mechanical system is one of the most effective ways to reduce
energy costs. Too often, engineers look to optimize each individual component of their system rather than looking at the
system as a single, integral unit. Every time a new piece of equipment is added to the system, if it’s not properly optimized
within the scope of the entire system, you’ll end up with wasted energy and operational inefficiencies.
Screw compressors are designed to operate at 100 percent or they lose efficiency as the load decreases. Installing
VFDs can decrease this effect and increase overall efficiency. Adding VFDs to condensers and evaporators will allow the
fans to change speed, which saves power because fans operate on the cube law. It also can avoid unnecessary stops and
starts, which require additional energy and leads to mechanical wear.
Saving condenser horsepower is often offset by higher compressor horsepower and vice versa. It is important to balance the two and run at the optimum system efficiency point, which will change depending on loads and weather. Modern
refrigeration control systems allow you to better manage your entire system and continually optimize energy use. If you’ve
experienced issues with your existing system including unstable pressures, idling or lightly loaded equipment, or the inability to trim fans, it’s probably time to evaluate the overall system and upgrade the control system.
In addition to mechanical efficiencies, automation can greatly improve refrigeration efficiency and optimize energy use.
Automation allows users to generate trend analyses, alarm logs, energy management data and runtime reports in real-time. This data allows
you to make the necessary changes and modifications to ensure the refrigeration system is running at optimal efficiency. u